This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Hi my name is Donald and I am fifteen years old. I love my parents I really do but they are the unluckiest parents ever. It's in the planning department where the trouble lay. If they don't plan it, just do it then all is well, if they do then some disaster usually happens. The worst disasters were usually reserved for holiday time but we managed to survive them all and always had fantastic stories to tell when we got back to school.
The camping holiday
This was dad's idea and he seemed to have got it right this time. There is a company that owns an island just offshore. Not very big although it takes about fifteen minutes to walk around it. There are no buildings on the island and you must carry everything in and out excepting waste. There was a big water storage tank there. They supply and set everything up for you.
It was lots of fun. We all traveled in the ferry together and as they set up the camp Georgina and I explored the island. We found another camp site on the other side. They're was nobody in it though. Mum and dad had started to help the guys set up the tent but they just got in the way so they sat on the beach and sunbaked.
After the camp was all set up it started to get dark so we all changed into our pajamas, sat around the campfire talking then went to bed. No sooner were we asleep when I felt a hand over my mouth and a cloth against my nose and I blacked out. When I regained conscious we were all tied up together and gagged in the main tent. It was pitch black outside and standing over us were four men hooded and in some kind of uniform. They all carried guns. One of the men looked at mum who muttered something in her gag and glared at him, dad and I gave him our worst scowl and Georgina just trembled.
"Blimey sir," a British voice said "nobody said anything about kids".
Before 'Sir' could reply there was a flash of a flare and the sound of a helicopter then a thud. Another man brought a package in.
"They've dropped a radio sir" a broad Scottish voice said. Sir picked up the radio and spoke into it.
"We demand a helicopter, supplies and a safe passage out of here or we will kill the hostages".
They began negotiating and talking about this and that and stopped taking any notice of us. Dad meanwhile got his hands free then mums. He told her to pretend to still be tied up and run when he gave the word. We all managed to get untied when a man came in and herded us into a group outside. Gradually the man talking into the radio seemed to get more and more angrier till finally he said "that's it, we're going to shoot the hostages. We will start with the girl"
"What girl" came over the radio.
Just then dad picked up a thick branch and hit the man guarding us causing him to drop his gun.
"Run" dad yelled and mum and I ran into the darkness. One of the gunmen shot at dad and put three bullets in his back then two in mum. Both were thrown to the ground and lay there quite still. I jumped beneath a large log but not, however, our tiny little fourteen year old Georgina. She picked up the gun dropped by the gunman pointed it at the nearest man and pulled the trigger. She held on to it for dear life and bullets went everywhere. Just at that time the "rescuing forces "arrived.
Four men dropped from ropes from a helicopter and six landed and ran up the little beach. Georgina didn't care, her bullets were going everywhere and men were dropping like flies. Of course the rescuers did not know Georgina was behind this and returned fire but luck held for our little heroine and none hit her. Eventually she ran out of bullets and some one grabbed the gun from her. She stood there defiantly and awaited her maker.
Suddenly a voice boomed out. "Well you are a great bunch of no hoppers." and a huge man in a sergeants uniform stepped into the camp. He raised Georgina's right hand into the air.
"I declare this young lass the winner of the hostage exercise. She singlehandedly defeated not only the terrorists but the rescuing forces as well."
Then all the dead soldiers got up off the ground and dusted themselves off. Mum and dad also strode into the clearing, their backs all covered in red demanding to know what was going on.
We had inadvertently, again, got caught up in a military training exercise. The bullets were a high tech version of paint-balls. Mum and dad had bruises for weeks after. The hostages were supposed to be in the other camp site. The camping company was only supposed to have one camp site but thought they would make some extra cash by putting us on the other side of the island. Unfortunately the army seen us first and thought we were hostages. They were very good to us though. They flew us out on their chopper to the destroyer and gave us a personalized tour and a slap up dinner. Then they all lined up and presented Georgina with her very own medal for bravery under fire and saluted her. She never stopped talking about it for months and kept dragging me of to paint ball skirmishes where I always end up slaughtered and covered in paint.
The boating holiday
The boating holiday was mums idea. We had gone to one of those boating camping and fishing expos and she came across a boating holiday where you sail your own boat. She kept quiet for a few days then exploded the bomb shell.
"We are going on a boating holiday" she announced "we are going to rent one of those sail it yourself boats in the Whitsunday Islands."
It was Georgina that broke the silence.
"Do you know how many things could go wrong with that"
And Dad said, "the wind could stop blowing"
"Its got an outboard engine" she countered.
"We could sink" I said.
"We've got life belts and a little boat."
"We could get scurvy," moaned Georgina. We all ignored that one.
"I know, I know" said mum, "but I've got it all worked out"
"You mean you have a plan" groaned Dad.
"That's just it. We won't use a plan. We will just go and arrange things as they come up"
"Your mad" I said, "you have to book these things in months in advance. Especially the airline ticket. "
"Nonsense" she said, " we will go standby. Come on let's get packed."
"What! are we going now"
"No silly, tomorrow morning"
"But mum, I was going to go to the mall with Brenda"
"And I have football practice tomorrow"
"And I have got a new computer game I want to play" said dad.
The look on mums face was so full off hurt and disappointment that dad said, "OK kids go pack your stuff and don't forget your emergency kits. We might as well be prepared"
We were at the airport by noon next day and stood at the Jet stars ticket counter.
"No Madam. We don't sell standby tickets" said the ticket clerk with a look that seemed to suggest mum was from the dinosaur age, "but we do have four seats left on the next flight I can let you have for forty percent off."
"Sixty" mum shot back.
"Fifty and that's my final offer" and the clerk sat back in her seat with her arms folded.
"Done" said mum and we were on the plane in less than an hour. It was so cool. We weren't even sitting together. I was next to this real cute friendly girl, Georgina was next to a young mother with her baby (Georgina loves babies. She is going to have ten one day. Not all at once I think). Mum was next to a handsome businesses man and she talked and giggled the whole flight. Poor dad was stuck between two rather obese people, one of whom smelled rather badly.
We landed in Cairns rather late in the evening and got a taxi to take us to a motel. I was a bit jumpy by now as nothing had gone wrong.
"Oh stop worrying", mum said. "Remember we just don't plan anything. " It did seem to be working.
The next day we went around the Harbor and every tourist shop in Cairns but there was no boat to be had for miles around. Mum was getting quite upset and kept crying and saying she dragged us up here for nothing and then dad came back with the news that he met this guy in a pub and he said there was a yacht for hire in some little village down south. Mum perked up immediately.
"Where is village" Mum asked.
"About five hundred kilometers South off here."
We tried everything to get to this village. Trains and planes and buses. As soon as we said we wanted to get to it there was no cars available for hire either. We were quite disappointed and wondering what to do when mum said, "Were planning again that's the problem. Come on follow me" picked up her pack and marched off. We eventually picked her up in the taxi dad had flagged down.
"We might as well take this as far as we can,” he said.
We rode in the taxi as far as dad's money would take us but we still had about four hundred and fifty kilometers to go. We walked for about three hours with our thumbs up but no lift. Then dad just happened to tell mum to stop hitching her skirt up her thighs as she was probably past it by now which prompted mum to retort that he was probably going to spend the rest of his life in the garage. During the ensuing domestic squabble no one noticed this enormous truck coming to a stop.
"You folks need a lift somewhere" he asked in a long slow drawl that definitely was not Australian. He was, in fact, from the South of the USA. All four of us clambered into to his enormous cabin. Mum and dad squashed up next to him, Georgina and I squatting on the floor.
"When I yell duck you kids duck. We don't want trouble with the cops"
We had a fantastic time listening to his stories about trucking. He was traveling the world as a truck driver and once he was finished this contract here he was going home. As mum was sitting next to him the two flirted the whole trip and you could see dad fuming. Before we knew it the truck rolled to a stop and Ollie, thats right Ollie, said, "Well folks time to part company. The village you want is about thirty kilometers down that road.".
We all clambered out said goodbye and the truck roared off and then we noticed the road we had to go down. No wonder we couldn't hire a car.
"OK everybody" said mum cheerily, "let's go" and started striding down the road. Dad followed but he was in a foul mood and must have decided to continue the squabble so the two of them strode out in front merrily exchanging verbal blows and completely ignoring us two struggling along behind. This continued for about an hour as we made our way along the dusty, rocky,and rut filled road when we crossed a ridge and were making our way down the other side when suddenly there was a frantic tooting of a horn. We all turned around to see a battered old Ute sliding and swerving straight for us. As one we all leaped out of its way. Dad and I lifted ourselves out of the pile of dust and Georgina helped untangle mum from the bush she landed in.
"Strewth" the big bronzed weather beaten old man said "stone the crows, don't you fellas know this is a road."
Mum looked liked she was going to murder the driver so dad stepped in and said" Would you mind giving us a lift to the village at the end of this road".
"What do you want to go to that dump for" and Dad explained we were looking for the fellow that rents out the yacht.
"Oh thats my brother Zacharia. I'll take you to him." So Georgina and I climbed on the back of the Ute and hung on for dear life while dad and mum got in the front, dad making sure that this time he was in the middle between mum and the driver. Septimus, our driver, had driven up from Brisbane to visit his brother before heading off to Darwin. We arrived at his brothers place which was a big house next to a pier with quite a decent sized yacht moored there. When mum and dad seen us as they got out of the Ute they almost collapsed with laughter. We were covered head to toe in dust. We were both pretty furious with our parents, especially Georgina, but we changed into our bathers and jumped off the pier. We pretty soon forgave them.
When Zacharia and Septimus finally met it was with a lot of booming voices and five minutes of insulting each other. Zacharia was a smaller, younger version of Septimus. Eventually the insults ended and Zacharia yelled for a slab of beer. A young plump attractive blond woman appeared effortlessly carrying a slab of beer on her shoulder.
"I don't know about you two" she looked pointedly at mum and dad, "but if these two old bastards get drunk they can sleep on the yacht tonight," and marched off. When the four of them had polished off the slab (mum can put away her share of beer just as good as any man) Zacharia took them on the yacht.
It certainly was for hire. A young Japanese couple had just canceled when they discovered they get very sea sick. It was a dual hulled type not luxurious but clean and very sound. Zacharia said it would take a couple of days to provision it but we could stay at the pub in the village till it was ready. The village was about a kilometer down the track. Julie, the blond woman, would drive us there. Julie turned out to be Zacharia's daughter. His wife had died several years before.
Julie drove them in a brand new four wheel drive Toyota but she was sullenly quiet for the whole trip. They later found out that she was about to leave the village with her fiancée when her mother died and she couldn't bring herself to leave her grieving dad. The fiancée left anyway and never spoke to her again. She never got over it some say.
The pub was awesome. It sat right on the beach and you could sit on the veranda watching the waves roll in. It was very quiet during the week but got quite busy on the weekend. There was only ever two customers during the day and they sat in the same spot every time. The barmaid reckoned they were that old the pub was built around them. In the late afternoon and onwards a few more men turned up coming in after work before going home. All this meant we had the pub pretty much to ourselves. The barmaid was a backpacker from New Zealand that liked the place so much she stayed. She got on so well with dad she even let him pull his own beer. It was mums turn to get jealous.
The yacht became ready before the weekend so we never got to see what it was like then. Instead we stood on the deck of the yacht for our first lesson. I couldn't believe that mum got us here on a yacht all the way from Sydney without the slightest plan and nothing went wrong. Dad led the three cheers for mum, gave her a big hug and a sloppy kiss then for some reason she started crying. Women, I just don't understand them.
Now this is where everything went wrong. Without anyone realizing it dad made a plan. He plotted his way out the little Harbor into the sea. Plotting is a maritime version of planning. When the time came to leave on our own dad plotted a course and mum followed it telling dad which way to steer. What always causes our plans to go astray is always a combination of bad luck and misinformation. In this case the bad luck was a sand bank forming a few weeks ago and not on the charts and some idiot putting the wrong navigation marker down, a port instead of a starboard marker. If dad had never made a plan we would never have sailed so close to that island.
Mum was happily following dad's course and dad proudly piloting the boat. Mum sees the marker and directs dad around straight on to the sandbank. The stop was that abrupt poor Georgina slid down the deck and shot off into the water, dad bounced of the steering wheel, I grabbed hold of a rail and stopped myself going overboard and mum bounced around a bit but was unhurt.
Dad grabbed a lifebuoy and ran to help Georgina but she was OK. The water was only waist deep but she was in shock and crying. Dad jumped in and carried her back to the boat. We all gathered in the yacht and let the shock dissipate then checked the yacht for damage but it was safe and sound just stuck. Mum said we should radio for help but dad said the next high tide would float us off. We just had to wait. I wished we had listened to mum.
Evening approached and we were beginning to enjoy ourselves. Mum cooked up a nice tea and we told each other ghost stories. Time came to go to bed and we were sound asleep. Not for long though, we were all woken up to the sound of the wind in the rigging. A very nasty squall had descended upon us. It was terrifying especially as we couldn't do anything. We prayed and prayed that nothing would happen until a huge gust of wind coupled with an enormous wave lifted the yacht up and pushed it much further on to the sandbank. It also broke our radio mast. When morning came it became evident we were no longer going too float off the sandbank. We were well and truly stuck and we couldn't call for help. Of our ten day yachting holiday we spent two lovely days sailing and eight days exploring a tiny island no one ever came to.
After the twelfth day the coast Guard turned up. Zacharia began to get worried when we didn't turn up and he couldn't contact us on the radio. He wasn't upset about the damage to his boat but he wouldn't give us our money back either. Instead he took us all up to the pub. It was the weekend and it was fabulous. He even arranged for a friend to take us all back to Cairns. We caught a flight home and though the holiday ended in the usual disaster we all thought mum done a brilliant job getting us there.
A Greenie holiday
The Greenie holiday was my fault. I went through one of those "enter every contest" phases and the only thing I won was the holiday. I knew what it was when it arrived in the post and I was debating whither to throw it in the rubbish bin as I didn't feel like another disaster. Dad thought the letter was for him as our initials are the same and opened it. He immediately gathered us around and announced we were going on holiday to the rain-forests of Northern Queensland.
The plane trip to Cairns passed quite uneventfully and we were picked up in a mini bus and taken to the resort. The resort was really cool. It had a swimming pool, tennis court and a games center. There was about half a dozen shops and a couple of restaurants and bars arranged like a little market place. The bungalows were quite comfortable but rather rudimentary. One of the things I liked best was that we could have our breakfast in the market place. Every one would just turn up in their pajamas.
The main attraction was the scenic walks. These were boardwalks constructed through the trees with scenic views, picnic spots and safe swimming holes. We chose the longest one that ended in a huge lookout towering above the rain forest canopy. Unfortunately we did not have any sense of the disaster awaiting us.
We started on the journey with light backpacks. The journey was actually overnight with a cabin at the end of the walk. When we entered the walkway it gently sloped upwards for some distance till we were twenty to twenty five feet above the floor of the forest. After about an hours walk we came across one of those swaying bridges you always see in the movies. Wooden slats fastened to ropes strung across the gap. It was more of a tourist prop than a bridge and there was a sign saying hold on tightly to the safety ropes.
Georgina decided to go first and she weighs hardly anything. She walked onto the bridge feeling quite secure. I got on next and weighing a bit heavier caused the bridge to wobble. Dad came next and thundered on to the bridge with the full force of his not inconsiderable weight. The shock wave rippled down the rope bridge causing me to grip the safety rope tighter but it hit poor Georgina flipping her onto her butt and she slid off the bridge under the safety rope and started a twenty five foot descent to the ground.
Fortunately a large tree branch interrupted her fall. When they reached the spot where she fell over and looked down they found her lying astride a huge branch motionless. Dad yelled out "Georgina are you OK".
Georgina sat up on the branch and replied "Yes"
"Hold on, Donald will go and get help".
"Don't bother. I can climb back up." She proceeded to scale the tree branches till she was on the one just above us. We all got together to steady the bridge and help her down. We finished crossing the bridge then mum inspected Georgina for damage. Apart from a small scratch and bruise on her face she was OK.
We continue on our walk admiring the flowers, birds and trees when we approached a large branch overhanging the path. Mum was leading followed by Georgina. Suddenly Georgina yelled out "snake" and mum looked up. There on the branch was the biggest snake I had ever seen eying mum off like she was next months dinner. Mum gave an enormous shriek and jumped backwards right through the wooden hand rail and down she went. The snake meanwhile disgusted at losing its meal slithered off. We rushed to the side and there was mum entangled about six feet down on a bunch of vines.
"Hold on" dad said "I'll come down to help you".
"No no" mum said. "If Georgina can get back up by herself I'm damn sure I can" then launched herself up and grabbed a vine growing on the tree. Unfortunately it was not attached strongly enough and it ripped away. Down went mum with another shriek then off she went swinging like Tarzan through the jungle straight into the trunk of a tree. This time however she stayed there and luckily the path passed right above her. "Alright alright" she moaned, "come and get me".
It was Georgina's turn to inspect mum and declared her fit apart from the large bruise on her forehead so we continued on. The wooden path meandered through the forest high up in the branches and we became conscious of the sound of a waterfall.
When we rounded the bend in the path we came into full view of the waterfall. It was truly beautiful. It fell about ten feet above us and descended twenty below. The wooden path stopped next to it and a little rock ledge had been carved out behind the fall then the path continued on. There was a sign warning us to be prepared to get wet. We all edged onto the ledge and stood there watching and listening to the rushing water. We were not sure what quite happened but we think dad lost his footing and slid into the path of the water fall and started to fall over. Mum tried to grab him but the extra force of the falling water pulled the both of them over. Georgina and I tried to grab onto to them but we also lost our footing and slid off the rocky ledge.
Down the four of us went into the pond. Thankfully we were all strong swimmers and the backpacks and clothes didn't weigh much. When we dropped into the pond the current from the falling water pushed me down. I just swan with it then out sideways and up to the surface. Mum was already at the surface and Georgina appeared soon after. We waited anxiously for dad then he appeared. Being heavier he sank further.
We where all OK so we stripped to our undies and had a good swim while our outer clothes dried. We got dressed and slowly climbed up to the path and continued on. Eventually Georgina spotted the flying Fox going down to the picnic ground and dad thought that would be a good place to have lunch. Unfortunately nobody noticed the steps leading down a bit further on.
Unfortunately the flying Fox was manned by a rum-soaked gnarled old man who didn't seem to inspire any confidence and somehow the popular vote put me first on the flying Fox. The old man was amazingly efficient and skilled at fixing the harness and I managed to stay conscious from the alcoholic vapors coming from him as he told me how to use the brakes then he shoved me off the boardwalk and into the air. I descended down the rope in fits and starts. In a very ungainly and unprofessional manner until I reached the ground. I then fumbled as I undid the harness.
The next to go was Georgina. She waited eagerly as the old man connected up her harnesses. The alcoholic vapors did not bother her at all (I wonder about that girl sometimes) as she listened to the instructions then she launched herself off the wooden path into mid air. She zoomed down the rope at supersonic speed prompting a cry of "be careful" from mum. She applied the brake at just the right time and slid to a perfect landing. Two flicks of her wrist and she undid her harnesses, smirked at me, crossed her arms and stood there with a pleased look on her face.
Next was dad. He glided down perfectly and came to a soft landing then it was mum's turn. She was determined not to be outdone by the rest of her family so she suffered the alcoholic vapors and wandering hands of the old man as he hooked her up then she gingerly launched herself into the air. At first she traveled well but about a third of the way down she applied the brake suddenly. Then she tried to release the brake but couldn't.
"I'm stuck" she yelled.
"Don't worry" the old man yelled back "this happens occasionally".
He started to jerk on the retrieval rope more and more viciously causing mum to sway back and forth but the brake would not release. Dad rushed over to the intercom and asked the old man what the problem was.
"The brakes stuck solid" he said "I will have to go and get some help. I will be back as soon as I can."
He grabbed his bottle of rum and took off. However when he got to the swaying bridge he had consumed most of the bottle and fell of the bridge when he tried to cross it. He had the usual luck of drunk people and landed unharmed but he promptly fell asleep.
Meanwhile back at the disaster site mum was getting more and more frantic.
"Get me down" she yelled "I'm terrified".
"Don't worry" dad yelled,"help is on its way"
But help wasn't on its way. The afternoon crept in bringing the usual storms and in true disaster fashion this one came early. It started with high gusty winds which blew poor mum violently back and forth and spun her around and around.
"I'm getting sea sick" she moaned.
Unfortunately the lightning started followed by the crashing of thunder then mums screams and then the rain started. The ones on the ground ran for cover in the picnic shelter but poor mum got the full force of the falling rain which was so heavy they couldn't hear her through the noise. The rain eventually stopped and poor mum hung there swinging gently in the breeze, a soaked, saturated mess. There was a little stream of water running from the toes of her shoes.
"We've got to do something dad. It will be dark soon"
"Right. Give me your Swiss army knife". My Swiss army knife was a beauty. It had everything you needed to survive our disasters. Dad took the knife and ran up the steps to the top of the flying Fox. He broke into the old mans locker and found some rope amongst the empty bottles of rum. He made a safety harness and tied it onto the flying Fox rope then slid down to mum.
"Its alright honey. I'm here now."
A little whimper was the reply. Dad inspected the brake and found that a twig had somehow got jammed in there.
"Alright now listen carefully honey. I want you to hold the brake rope tightly. I don't want you to run off without me when I release the brake. Do you understand"
There was another little whimper in the affirmative and the brake rope tightened. Dad worked on the twig with the knife sawing and cutting till it was clear. Then he cut himself free from his safety harness and swung his body down till he could wrap his legs around mums. With one hand he gripped the rope above her head and with the other grasped the brake rope. Mum let go of the rope and wrapped her arms round dads waist, buried her head in his chest and began sobbing. Dad slowly released the brake and the two slowly slid down the rope till they were safely on the ground then they unhooked mum from the harnesses. Dad and I helped her up the steps. Georgina ran ahead and found the cabin and returned with a warm blanket for mum.
When we got to the cabin I got the fire going and sat mum in front of it. I got her a cup of coffee. She took a sip then sighed and said to dad "it would be nice if there was something stronger in this". Dad grinned and pulled a half bottle of rum from his back pocket
"This do? " he asked.
The morning came and mum had recovered from the ordeal. We got our packs together and set out to climb the tower blissfully unaware of the final disaster. The tower was indeed tall and it was climbed by means of a long and meandering ladder disappearing upwards broken only by little platforms that had little seats to rest on. The ladders were also fully enclosed so that you couldn't fall off. The climb upwards was laborious but we enjoyed it, stopping many times for rests and photographs. Eventually we reached the last resting platform. The ladder on this last stage was not attached to the frame of the tower but simply with two bolts attaching it to the platform and two bolts attaching it to the floor of the lookout. This last section was no problem to climb.
We spent the next hour and a half drinking in the scenery of the forest canopy. Gentle rolling hills of all shades of green spread out around us with masses of flowers providing great splashes of color. Several flocks of birds flew everywhere. We all had something to eat and drink then decided it was time to head for home. Dad went to go down the ladder first. He put his full weight on the first rung then gave a yelp and dropped down through the door in the floor. He just managed to grab hold of the handrails then hung there with his feet swinging in the air. The top bolts in the ladder finally gave way. They had been slowly rusting over the years. We pulled dad up and surveyed the scene. There was no way to get down. It might have been possible to drop down but it was also highly likely you would fall off the platform. Georgina volunteered to hang off dad's feet but mum vetoed that idea.
We were stuck there for four days. We had shelter and water but we ran out of food on the first day. We thought about lighting a fire but even if we could we were afraid do it because of the risk of setting the lookout on fire. On the fifth day we were getting very hungry and scared when we were found by a bunch of Swedish tourists. The men raised the ladder and held it steady so we could all come down. The resort management was very apologetic about everything. Apparently when the old man woke up he totally forgot why he was there and simply went back to work. We managed to get an extra five nights out of this and we spent every day in the pool and games room. We had enough of environmental walks
Mum has an elder sister, aunt Margaret. She has never married and this really annoyed mum although she would never admit it. It's not that aunt Margaret dislikes men its the marriage bit she detested.
Mum is always trying to find men for aunty to marry and this was the cause of our latest holiday disaster. Mum came up with the idea we should all go to a Pacific Island resort. There's bound to be plenty of men out there. Mum emailed aunty Margaret who was fully aware of 1) our holiday disasters and 2) mums matchmaking and answered in a reply email one word with a one hundred and fifty point typeface 'NO'. Mum is persistent however and after about fifty email exchanges aunty gave in and we all arrived safely at the resort.
By breakfast next morning mum spied her target. She very cunningly found out that his name was Bill and he planned to go on a canoe trip to a native village tomorrow morning. It consisted of three self paddle ten-seater canoes with one guide per canoe. The next morning the five of us turned up at the little Wharf. Mum cunningly mustered us near Bill ignoring the apprehensive looks from her husband and the suspicious ones from her sister. Fate intervened however in the form of a fracas just as we were about to board the canoes. Two teenage boys started fighting over, naturally, a girl. In the ensuing melee we got separated with Bill, me and mum going on one canoe and the rest in another and as a sort of forewarning of what was to come mum stood on Bill's hand when she boarded the canoe.
"You've broken my bloody hand" he yelled in pain. Big baby, mums done much worse than that to other people. Then to pile on more injury she kept hitting him on the head with her paddle, quite accidentally of course. However, just to show you how clever mum actually is she found out from him that he was a dentist, unmarried or engaged and lived quite near her sister. Poor fellow, he should have realized 'loose lips sink ships'.
They all paddled off and up the river for about an hour without any major thing going wrong. The other two canoes were much further ahead for some reason but nobody was concerned and then they rounded a bend in the river leaving us on our own. It's as if disaster was waiting for just the right moment. Mum let out an enormous shriek and stood up.
"There's a bloody big spider crawling up my leg" and in her panic knocked it flying onto Bill's head where it promptly ran down his back under his tee-shirt. Naturally he jumped up and started thrashing his back and struggling to get the tee-shirt off, fighting against mums help. Of course all this was making the canoe unstable and two more people stood up in an effort to get them to sit down. It was all too much and the canoe slowly tipped over and all ten people fell into the river with Bill thrashing madly in the water.
Luckily everyone could swim and they all made it to the river bank safely but the banks on this stretch of river was nothing but mud. Thick black oozing mud. They spent the next half hour slipping, sliding, falling and crawling in the mud before a canoe came back for them. Unfortunately the canoe that came back contained Auntie Margaret and dad and when they saw mum and I totally covered in mud they almost fell out of the canoe laughing.
"Don't worry Donald" she snarled "they will pay for this later".
The guide on the canoe yelled to our guide that he had radioed for help and it would be here in half an hour. Since there was nothing he could do he would continue on. Without consulting us he said "OK" and the canoe went off. We sat there waist deep in mud for an hour after and when the launch finally came they wouldn't let any of us on till they had hosed us down, we were that covered in mud.
Poor old Bill had to spend three days in hospital. The Spider bit him. It wasn't poisonous but Bill had an allergic reaction to it and blew up like a balloon. Mum felt that sorry for him she took him some flowers on the day he was due to be released and a bee flew out of the bunch and stung him on the nose. He spent another two days in hospital.
Bill managed to avoid mum for the next few days but one day she overheard him mention that he had entered the tennis tournament. Now it just happened that mum and aunty were quite good at tennis and used to play doubles together many years ago. Mum sneaked off to the notice board and found Bill had put his name down so mum put aunty Margaret's name against Bill as a partner in the mixed doubles and her own name in another spot. She found her sister and told her she had entered both of them in the tennis competition. Her sister just said "Hmm, thats nice dear" absentmindedly and continued reading her book and sipping her Martini. She had long ago mastered the technique of tuning her annoying little sister out.
However disaster was watching closely and on the day of the match aunty Margaret had a bad dose of the cramps and decided to spend the day in bed and Mums partner broke his toe water skiing. This meant that Bill and mum were thrown together as a mixed double. Now I actually didn't see the disaster as dad and I had gone fishing, native style, so mum took Georgina along for moral support. Poor mum, she didn't realize Georgina was afflicted with the same disaster gene. I will pass the story over to Georgina.
I didn't really want to go as this cute guy was looking me over at the juice bar and I decided to make myself approachable but mum kept asking and asking so I had to agree just to shut her up.
This guy Bill looked like he was going to have a heart attack when he realized he was going to be partnered with mum but when they began to warm up during the training sessions he began to realize how good mum actually was and began to cheer up. Steadily they managed to defeat their opponents making their way to the finals. Mum was now getting on so well with Bill they were having more chats over drinks. Mum seemed very curious about him for some reason.
Mum and Bill made the finals and I volunteered to be netball girl. You know the one that retrieves the balls when they hit the net. Of course the fact that the guy I had the crush on was watching had nothing to do with it. The play started and mum and Bill were superb but the other team was just as good. They fought each other hard but the score kept even with neither side getting the lead. I was getting more and excited and then it happened. The other side returned the ball with a high lob. I could see mum had locked on to its trajectory and began winding back for one of her mighty smashes. Bill seen it also and began to move into position.
I can recall it now like it was yesterday. I was so excited I jumped up to get ready to cheer and yell. I jumped up so fast I forgot about the tennis ball in my lap. It flew off and rolled onto the court. Mum had shifted her foot to position it for a better grip and the ball rolled right under it. Mums foot slipped of and she started to twist. Meanwhile her powerful swing missed the ball and the unspent energy ripped the racket from her hand straight into the advancing Bill's nose with a sickening thud.
Bill stopped short and fell flat on his back unconscious. Meanwhile mum legs shot up into the air and she landed on her back. She lay there holding her ankle. I watched the whole scene with the horrid knowledge it was all my fault. Poor Bill spent another three days in hospital while they fixed his broken nose and mum had to hobble around on crutches with a torn ankle ligament. I felt that sorry for mum I offered to do the housework for a month but she simply just sighed and said "bring me a double Martini".
I will let mum tell you about the final disaster.
I finally managed to get Margaret and Bill together, or so I thought. They all went off on a cruise up the river. A bit like the canoe but in luxury and no chance of capsizing. I was sitting with my bad foot resting on a stool with my crutches next to me on a chair. I was contently sipping my wine when Bill plumped himself down in a chair beside me. Apparently the ticket he had purchased was for a friend, he had no desire to go on the river again, understandably.
I was surprised he even wanted to talk to me but he didn't blame me for the tennis thing, at least not directly and anyway he was really impressed by my tennis playing so we spent some time talking tennis. He got up and bought me a drink and when he brought it back I asked him to get me a little cheese plate they had just brought out.
He got up, passed in front of me and got his legs entangled in my crutches and went straight down to the floor. Instinctively I stood up to help him forgetting about my bad foot. A bolt of pain shot up my leg and automatically put my weight on my good leg. Unfortunately I was standing on Bill's leg at the time and I put my whole weight on it. I heard a snap and anguished scream. I shifted my weight back to my bad leg and collapsed on top of Bill. All he did was yell "Get her off me, get her off me" and when I tried to make him comfortable he yelled for security to take me away. Eventually they took him away on a stretcher and I never saw him again. Sadly I had to admit defeat. Three days later we left for home.
Mum was depressed when we got home. After all the effort she put in she was not able to get the two of them to even meet each other .
We where having our last meal with aunt Margaret and mum apologized to her for the disastrous holiday.
"Nonsense" said aunty Margaret "I had a lovely time. I met this really nice man and I am going out to dinner with him when I get home and his broken leg mends. Funny thing you know" and she gave mum a funny look "he told me of a crazy women he met that seemed intent on killing him" and then smiled.
We have come the end of my tales of disastrous holidays and I cant wait to till you about poor Georgina's wedding day.
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